Reject Trinity Indifference

Two weeks ago in our April 9 edition, I pressed President Joanne Berger Sweeney to call for a ceasefire, claiming “there were ample opportunities for YOU [Berger-Sweeney] to be the first American college president to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. You did not. Your people did not. Your students are the ones advocating for peace.” 

While I maintain that Berger-Sweeney should call for a ceasefire, one of those statements is wrong. Trinity students are not advocating for peace; we are doing nothing. As students throughout the Northeast and the entire nation are suffering police and university harassment, suspension and even arrest, what are we doing with our time? Drinking our thoughts away at our silly little formals, going to class attempting to save our final grades, surfing the internet to find the perfect outfit for Bryce Vine. What is going on? Why do we not feel compelled to act? 

I feel restless, frustrated and pathetic, and I hope these feelings are shared across campus, at least amongst people who want to organize. But, it shouldn’t just be the students from the Coalition for Justice in Palestine. Why isn’t every single individual on this small campus up in arms right now – or even better, up in tents? I ask myself why I am not out on the quad right now setting up camp – what is stopping me? 

Fear is a powerful tool, and our campus is a model example of what happens (nothing) when students are consumed by it. I do not just mean fear of academic repercussions or arrest, but rather a type of fear that is hard to name. Fear of being the only one, of being ostracized by our peers, of bearing the weight on only two shoulders. I know there are students on this campus who want to fight for a liberated Palestine (which also means liberation for us all), but we have let ourselves stay divided by this fear that has manifested into a culture of severe indifference. We say, “oh, I can’t meet tonight because I have a paper due tomorrow.” “Other schools are already doing things, so we don’t have to.” “What can a few students do anyway?” I am guilty of saying and thinking all of these sentiments, too; just because I am writing an editorial does not mean I am holier than thou. Words are important, but action must follow. 

Right now, we are letting this fear win – hiding from each other instead of seeking each other out to act as our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers are murdered daily in Palestine. Here I sit, writing out this editorial that feels useless, as students at Columbia, Yale, NYU, MIT, UMich, UNC, Tufts, The New School and countless others are holding steadfast to their demands. As I write this, the list grows. 

Those students are just like us in all ways except one: they, too, have classes to attend, final grades to be dished out, wine to be drunk with their friends. The one thing we do not have in common is that they are willing to push all of that aside for the now 34,000 people murdered in Palestine by Israel; so far, we are not. They are willing to put everything on the line – their social life, their classes, their safety, their bodies – for one of the most important fights in history. These students refuse to get caught up with the things we are told we should care about, and instead choose to engage with aspects of life that are truly meaningful. These students are choosing each other, and their humanity, over all else. 

They have proven the police do not keep us safe; we keep each other safe. They prove the university is not a site of critical thinking; we must create our own sites of educational engagement. They prove that we can exist outside of and beyond these oppressive systems, reimagining what a community looks like: sharing food, water, clothes, tents, blankets, school supplies, phones, stories, laughter, songs and spirit. 

But where do we go from here? How do we import this spirit to Trinity? I know there is so much more for us than our miserable complacency, but how do we make it happen?

Maybe our next steps are not camping out on the quad, but rethinking what kind of community we have at Trinity that would allow for an encampment in the future. It’s up to us to reimagine what our connections look like, what type of people we surround ourselves with and what kind of people WE are in relation to others. We must care for each other beyond the temporary bond of four years of undergrad, a semester class or a seasonal teammate. Caring about others, truly, means caring about our collective future. Trinity must figure that out and override the fear and indifference. Only then can we reach our full potential as a community. . 

So, to close out my tirade – if anyone wants to share a tent, let me know. 


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